Little at Large: Miliband comes clean over Commons 'poison' incident

We've all heard the rhetoric about how the embrace of the state can be fatal for third sector endeavour. But one assumes no one was claiming that chief executives and trustees were literally expiring after meetings with ministers in government departments.

Mathew Little
Mathew Little

Not until now, that is. In a mea culpa on Social Enterprise Day last week, Cabinet Office minister Ed Miliband confessed that he'd managed to "poison" Liam Black, who runs Jamie Oliver's social enterprise restaurant, Fifteen - and Mrs Black too.

The culprit wasn't Miliband himself but something they ate during a House of Commons soiree. Black survived to advise others: "Don't eat there."

Surely this will appear in an Acevo report on the superiority of third sector catering delivery over state-run services.

- Social enterprises are kinder to the inhabitants of Whitehall, as shown in the photo (above) of Campbell Robb, director-general of the Office of the Third Sector, enjoying a hand massage by students from Sarah Bonnell School in east London, who run a social enterprise hair and beauty salon. Are third sector organisations learning to caress, rather than bite, the hand of government?

- A Children in Need fundraising committee member reports the generosity of American tourists when she was shaking a tin in Covent Garden last week. "We just love Pooh Bear - we just gotta give something," they said. She just smiled and kept shaking.

- Thanks to the volunteering charity that told me about its e-mentoring scheme for young volunteers. It is safe and anonymous, a spokeswoman said: "There's no danger of anyone being nurtured." I suspect that what she meant was "groomed".

- Mathew Little is a freelance writer

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